With summer not far away, it’s not too soon to mention that boaters, like motorists on land, need to watch their alcohol consumption if they plan to be piloting their watercraft this year. While it may be fin to hear the strains of, “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies are just as strict about boating under the influence (BUI) as they are driving while intoxicated (DWI).
What many people don’t always understand is that the same standards governing drinking and driving for landlubbers applies as much to captains of watercraft. As New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyers, we know the law. No matter if you’re on an inland lake or running just offshore along Atlantic, Ocean or Cape May County, as the pilot of your boat if you’ve been drinking you could be charged with DWI.
Just as a driver of an automobile, a boater whose blood-alcohol content (BAC) is over 0.08 percent, you can be arrested. And the same applies to drug DUI and breath test refusal. The reasons for this are simple; the statutes governing drunk driving on land are nearly the same as those for operating a boat when inebriated. DWI penalties for drunken boating are also quite similar.
For those who may decide to refuse a breathalyzer test, think carefully as the implied consent rules that apply to motorists also pertain to operators of boats. On the flip side, the same drunken driving defense strategies that can be successful for automobile drivers can work equally as well for those who are arrested for BUI.
So keep all this in mind as the weather improves. Remember that a boater navigating New Jersey’s waterways and coastal areas must always be cognizant that by drinking and piloting a watercraft they could be violating the law. No matter where you sail, it’s always a good idea to qualified boater with you to take the helm and act as the designated pilot to stay safe and within the law. As someone once said, “Water is a poor chaser.”